H1N1 flu is potentially life threatening to people of all ages

Originally published in Insidermedicine

H1N1 flu can cause serious illness, resulting in hospitalization and even death among individuals of all ages, according to surveillance information coming out of California that was published in the November 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Here are some guidelines for what to do if you are diagnosed with H1N1 flu:

• Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone

• Avoid close contact with others, especially those susceptible to the flu, such as people with chronic health conditions

• If close contact is unavoidable, consider wearing a facemask.

Researchers from the California Department of Public Health in Richmond analyzed health information on the first 1,088 patients who were hospitalized or died from infection with H1N1 flu in California during the spring and summer of 2009.

The affected patients ranged widely in age, with a midpoint age of 27. About one-third of the patients were under the age of 18. Infants were most likely to be hospitalized, and individuals over the age of 50 were most likely to die once hospitalized. Once hospitalized, nearly one-third of patients required treatment in intensive care. Most of the patients had underlying medical conditions that placed them at increased risk of having severe complications from the flu. The most common causes of death were viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Rapid tests for H1N1 flu were negative 34% of the time even in patients actually had the infection.

Today’s research helps provide a clearer picture of H1N1 flu, showing that individuals of all ages are at risk of developing serious complications from this virus.

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